Spring in AK

Friday, April 2, 2010

It has been a good couple of days. Yesterday we stopped and tied up to a mooring buoy in Icy Strait, near Porpoise Island, so that we could pump diesel fuel from the barge to our boat. I stayed up until 2300 last night to watch the fuel hose while the chief and AB manned the pumps. I was super cold because there was nothing to do so I sat there and got colder by the minute. This morning when I got up at 0300 for my watch, the AB told me that I could go back to bed, since I’d been up late the night before. That made me SO happy. So I went back to bed and woke up at 8, and did my cleaning. After that I went out on the aft deck and sat in the sun reading.

We left that mooring buoy at noon today and we are now in the gulf, where we will be for at least another day. During my afternoon watch I painted the work benches in the fidley and the winch room. Setting up for that was a huge pain in the ass because we had just passed Cape Spencer and the boat started to rock, and I spilled paint all over the deck. The mate teased me about that but said that I did a good job. He also has taken to calling me “Delilah”, which is so funny; I have no idea where that came from but I like it, as it’s a hell of a lot better than most nicknames out there.

Sunday, April 4, 2010 (Easter Sunday)

This morning was a strange one. The mate got on my case in a big way, ostensibly for working too slowly (I was just cleaning the wheelhouse for goodness sake). He repeatedly grabbed my cleaning utensils literally right out of my hands and finished my work as fast as he could, all without a word. I was taken aback, but not too bothered – if he wants to act like an idiot, let him. When I left the wheelhouse after my watch ended, I could hear him up there still, talking the captain’s ear off about how slow I am at my job, how girly and how annoying I am. Though I could have gotten upset at the idea that the mate didn’t approve of my method (or, for that matter, my presence), it was easy to decide that though he may not like me, I will continue to do my job to the best of my ability and continue being myself. The captain had my back and said leave her alone, she’ll figure things out and get faster and more efficient at her job. Right? Thanks capt.

I can’t blame the mate, he’s just a crazy redneck sailor who has worked on crabbers and tugs for most of his life, and does not believe that women belong on boats. He also spits chew in all the trash cans and I have to clean it up! Disgusting.

We were caught up in a squall about an hour ago that bombarded us with hail and snow, and wind at about 30 miles an hour. The seas are now at our flanks and pushing us northwest toward Prince William Sound. Earlier, when we were farther out, the water was a deep sapphire blue, but now that we are closer to land, it is that same milky green of the glacial waters that you see close to the shore in Alaska – the sun has come out and when sunlight shines through the breaking waves the mild greenish-blue is beautifully illuminated, like jade. Aside from the work and the drama and the homesickness, I love being out here on the ocean. It gives me an inexplicable feeling of peace and contentment. It reminds me of when I stood in the Musee d’Orsay in Paris as a seventeen-year-old and gazed at “Roche a Belle Ile” for what must have been half an hour, entranced by Monet’s vague depiction of the sea. Add the view to the relaxed quiet in the wheelhouse at 2 o’clock on a Sunday afternoon, and I couldn’t ask for more.

Roche a Belle-Ile
Claude Monet, 1886

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